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  • Gru and the Minions are back for “Despicable Me 4.” Expect mahem and lots of laughs (Photo: Universal)

    “Despicable Me” the animated movie about the mis-adventures of Gru, his family and the irascible Minions, was a box office smash when it debuted 14 years ago, and it turned out to be franchise gold.

    So, get ready for Gru and the Minions to return to the big screen July 4 in “Despicable Me 4.”

    The movie follows the summer 2022 blockbuster “Minions: The Rise of Gru,” which earned almost $1 billion worldwide. That’s a far cry from its 2010 debut, which shows staying power.

    The first minion film earned $543 million against a $69 million production cost. Not too shabby and clearly marked the film as franchise material. The follow up, “Despicable Me 2” pulled in $970 million.

    Since then, Gru and the minions have grown on their audience, and the latest film attracted some big name talent.

    Steve Carrell of “Office” fame and SNL alum Kristen Wigg are joined by Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier and Madison Polan to play the lead characters. But it doesn’t end there.

    Will Ferrell and Sofia Vergara join the cast as Gru’s nemesis Maxime Le Mal and femme fatale girlfriend Valentina, respectively.

    Oscar nominee Steve Coogan returns as Silas Ramsbottom and Pierre Coffin returns as the iconic voice of the Minions

    “Late Show” host Stephen Colbert, Joey King, of “Bullet Train” fame, and SNL’s Chloe Fineman join the cast for the first time to voice characters.

    With a cast like that, the Minions have clearly gone big time.

    In the movie, Gru, Lucy, Margo, Edith, and Agnes welcome a new member to the family, Gru Jr., who is intent on tormenting as he confronts the evil Maxime and Valentina.

    It’s too early to give much weight to reviews, but so far the film is drawing a middling response from critics.

    “If you hate the Minions, you’ll stay home. If you hate the Minions, and you have kids, you’ll have to see their movie anyway — multiple times,” writes Odie Henderson in the Boston Globe.

    “Sure it repeats everything it did the last three times, but thanks to Steve Carell’s lovable grump of a Gru and those wild and crazy Minions, the random lunacy remains hard to resist,” writes Peter Travers for ABC News.

    Brian Lowery of CNN takes the gloves off. “A tired, disjointed medley of madcap visual gags,” he whines.

    Critics collectively give the film a 56 rating on rottentomatoes, a movie review site, But, hey, nobody is arguing the movie isn’t bank.

    Check out the latest trailer below:

    The film opens in theaters July 4.

    Screenplay: Mike White, Ken Daurio

    Director: Chris Renaud

    Co-Director: Patrick Delage

    Producers: Chris Meledandri, Brett Hoffman  

    Despicable Me 4